Karine Jean Pierre, White House press secretary, marks two months on the podium. Several reporters with whom she interacts each day gave their evaluations of her performance in this notoriously challenging, high-profile job.
Jen Psaki, her predecessor, received cable news offers. Wide praise was also given to Psaki by the left-leaning press. One anonymous White House reporter even admitted that they were afraid of having a verbal sparring match with Psaki out of fear of being called “a-hole.”
Jean-Pierre hasn’t had a sunny start to the year. Politico’s West Wing Playbook declared last month that she’d experienced “unforced stumbles”, and “private grumbles” from journalists. This is due to Jean-Pierre’s tendency to stick with her binder and give talking points, rather than engaging in extemporaneous back and forths with the media.
According to the reporter, she’s getting better at calling on more reporters from the room but tends not to pay attention to the more “combative” ones.
Jean-Pierre has also been criticized for appearing uninformed, which is a serious sin for a press officer. She was unable to recall a section of President Biden’s May speech that referred to his application for the Naval Academy. When asked for comment, Jean-Pierre has admitted to a lack of knowledge about a particular, well-known news story on several occasions. On June 1, she did not know that President Biden had been in close contact with Deb Haaland, the COVID-positive Interior secretary.
She refused to provide details on Biden’s COVID testing program on June 16th, which vexed reporters. Last week, she was also criticised for saying that the country has never been more economically strong despite record inflation, which remains the biggest problem in her boss’s side. When asked last week to comment on a 2018 voicemail President Biden left Hunter about his business dealings, her response was to say that she would not comment on “alleged material from the laptop”.
Jean-Pierre has experienced some difficult moments even in more friendly formats. She made headlines when she reacted to Don Lemon’s question about Biden’s stamina ahead 2024. This is an increasingly important issue for Democrats.
Jean-Pierre, like Psaki and her predecessors in Trump’s administration, has held weekly briefings that are open to the public every weekday. Several reporters spoke out against Jean-Pierre’s briefing, claiming that it doesn’t give enough information.
When asked if she would rather not talk out of her depth or give bad information, the reporter replied that it was better to use the vast resources of the White House.
Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba has been openly squabbling with Jean-Pierre and Psaki. He expressed frustration at times at not being able to get answers to his questions. However, Jean-Pierre stated that things have improved in the last few weeks.
Politico reported that John Kirby’s repeated presence as a National Security Council spokesperson was causing Jean-Pierre to lose her position. Jean-Pierre is the first Black and gay woman to be appointed to this role. He was present three times in five days, in the briefing room and the gaggle with Jean-Pierre.